Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Nine toxic chemicals found in children’s products, study says

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Target Center renovation; Bachmann money machine; a new legislative gambling plan; Toyota wants out of Lee lawsuit; a raw-milk reversal; budget-cutting difficulties; and Vince Flynn fighting cancer.
Read Monday Afternoo


A study mandated by a consumer protection act in 2009 has revealed nine toxic chemicals present in products common to children. Lorna Benson of MPR reports: “The Minnesota Department of Health published a list Monday of nine toxic chemicals that are present in children’s products. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency collaborated on the list, which was mandated by the state’s Toxic Free Kids Acts, passed in 2009. … Kathleen Schuler, co-directer of the Minnesota-based consumer advocacy group Healthy Legacy, said companies are not required to disclose if they use some of these ingredients in their products. ‘We’d like government agencies to take a step further and that is actually require manufacturers to tell us if these chemicals are in their products and to move on to some restrictions,’ Schuler said. ‘So that consumers can know that when they go out and they buy products for their kids that they don’t have some of these priority toxic chemicals in them.’ In the absence of that requirement, Schuler said there are a few precautions parents can take now to reduce their kids exposure.”

Those of you who were under the impression the Target Center was no longer in use, other than for the occasional Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion tour, may be surprised to learn that the Timberwolves are still in the league and will announce plans to renovate the building, according to the Star Tribune and MinnPost. The Strib story says: “Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, City Council President Barbara Johnson and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor will hold a news conference on Tuesday to announce what they call ‘a sensible, sustainable Minnesota solution for renovating’ the 21-year-old arena. The Timberwolves say the proposal will cost ‘considerably less’ than replacing the building and will extend its viability for another two decades.” … Replacing? What?!

Bachmann item du jour: Jeremy Herb of the Strib posts at “Hot Dish Politics” that the congresswoman’s money-raising mojo has not been dimmed by the end of the election cycle: “Bachmann raised $102,000 in the final two months of the year, according to federal election filings submitted Monday. Most of the contributions came in small donations of less than $200. While Bachmann’s latest figures don’t quite match her record-shattering pace during the 2010 campaign, they are a sign that her fundraising machine is still fully operational.”

How about we just give up on farming, manufacturing and  high-tech research and turn the entire state economy over to gambling?  MPR’s Tim Nelson reports on another new bill bobbing to the surface at the Legislature: “A bill in the Minnesota Senate would authorize electronic bingo and electronic pull tabs. It would also allow video gambling run by the lottery, rather than traditional slot machines. Dan O’Gara is head of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, and spokesman for Profit Minnesota, the group promoting the idea. O’Gara said that the gambling expansion would put $630 million in the state’s general fund. … The plan has four Republican sponsors, including Senate President Michelle Fischbach, as well as DFL state Sen. Linda Scheid, of Brooklyn Park.”     

According to the AP, Toyota wants a judge to let it out of Kuoa Fong Lee’s suit, completely: “Lee was freed last year after more than 2 1/2 years in prison, and his conviction was vacated. He sued Toyota, claiming he and family members suffered distress from either the crash or his incarceration. In documents filed Monday, attorneys for Toyota say many of Lee’s claims won’t hold up legally. They say the automaker has no direct connection to events that led to Lee’s imprisonment.”

You never know how much you need it until it’s gone. In this case, it’s garbage collection., up on the Red River, reports: “Lindseth Garbage Service burned to the ground Sunday in McIntosh. A passing motorist called in the fire just after 5 a.m. Sunday, but the building was already engulfed in flames. Business owner Kelly Lindseth is waiting for a call from his insurance company. He’s hoping to quickly get a check to cover the nearly half-a-million dollar loss. All four of Lindseth’s garbage trucks and the shop are a total loss.”

Josh Moniz in the New Ulm Journal notes that Republican Sen. Gary Dahms is taking his name off that so-called “raw milk” bill introduced last week: “Dahms declined to comment on the reason he wanted his name removed or even the date it would be officially removed. The bill was introduced Thursday with a companion bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The bill would legalize direct farm-to-consumer sales of unpasteurized milk at markets, as well as allow deliveries to private homes and private buying clubs. The current law only allows the sale of unpasteurized milk at the farms that produce them. Dahms was one of three senators to introduce the bill. The other two senators were Sean Nienow of Cambridge and Claire Robling of Jordan, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.”

Blogger/farmer/county commissioner Brent Olson, out by Ortonville, writes about the real world of deficits and budget cutting on “Independently Speaking”: “In Minnesota one of the proposals is to cut the number of state employees by 15%. Now, I hate the government as much as anyone (even if I am part of it) and I’m willing to believe that we could shed a few public jobs. But is that going to fix things? Well, our state budget deficit is 6.2 billion dollars. The entire state payroll is around 1.3 billion. So, if we fired EVERYONE who works for the state government, we’d still need to come up with another 5 billion dollars. Our state deficit is around 20% of the budget. Now, suppose you bring home $3,000.00/ month — about average in Minnesota. Twenty percent of that is $600.00, which seems like a lot to cut, but look closer. If you’re living in a $150,000.00 house (average for Minnesota), your monthly mortgage payment is probably around $700.00. A car payment (if you only have one) might be around $300.00. Heat and lights add a few hundred/month, food maybe four hundred. You can’t really do much about any of those payments. … The state is in the same situation — there is money that needs to be spent, no matter how big a deficit we have, so talks of just cutting spending ignores the fact that there isn’t enough loose money around to cut our way out of the problem.

Extraordinarily popular author Vince Flynn has revealed he has prostate cancer. The Strib’s Kristin Tillotson blogs on the paper’s “Our Voices” site: “Flynn, author of the popular Mitch Rapp series, announced today via his emailed fan newsletter that he has Stage III metastatic prostate cancer. The November diagnosis ‘would have been a death sentence’ just a few years ago, he wrote, then voiced hope about advances in hormone therapy and new drug trials, praising Minnesota’s ‘great medical care.’ ”